Thursday, May 6, 2010

love means never having to say you're sorry

i've withheld saying much about this, mostly out of shock. i'm a little numb; charlottesville is a place i've loved in my life. i dig that town, and i've had amazing times there. there are connections in this debacle to the little mountain town where i started my college career. this one cuts kinda close to the bone.

i hate how everyone's always shocked when pretty white people are murdered. i wonder how many poor people, how many minorities, and how many other of the out-of-power folks in this world. but the fact that people really only care about this because a beautiful white girl was brutally murdered by a crazy thuggish fool doesn't change the fact that this girl was murdered by a crazy thuggish fool, one who once claimed to love her.

(note: i usually refrain from talking in these terms about people accused of crimes. the guy here admitted that he killed her; the only thing left to determine is what punishment he'll get and under what circumstances he killed her.)

intense, damaged people under the influence of intense, powerful emotions do intense and dangerous things. there's no doubt in my mind that no one ever saw something like this coming out of a well-heeled white boy like our hero. but his amazing athletic ability - he was one of UVA's leading scorers this year - provided pretty good cover, didn't it? no one thinks that privileged, successful people can possibly cave to base, animal instincts. but here we clearly have a guy with some problems. bad, bad problems. i've been angry, desperate and confused in my life, powerfully so, but i never crossed into that place that he went to.

let me be blunt: romantic violence is not the province of the poor, the uneducated and the addled. we tend to envision the victims of these crimes as either tragic inner-city single moms or tragic big-haired country-song caricatures. but here's the ultimate illusion-burster. this girl had everything: supportive family, brains, money, social status. these are supposed to be cultural failsafes. but one deranged, broken boy pierced every defense around this girl, and in the small hours of the morning, as he cracked, he rendered every advantage she had thoroughly, tragically and emphatically irrelevant.

i've been lucky, beyond lucky, in this life to have a long and intense education, amazing friends and caring family members. but i've seen some ugly things from people who said they loved me. i've suffered this. so many women, in similar station as me, have too. i've avoided serious consequences. but there's no special saving grace for anyone here. perhaps, just perhaps, seeing the naked brutality with which this girl's life was ended will jolt us as a nation into doing something about this.

maybe we'll watch out for our friends more now. and not just the girls, either. this isn't about protecting the supposedly weak here. this is about paying attention to those around us, and if we see some signs that the demons are getting the better of our friends, we'll say something before the darkness takes over. it's never an easy thing to do. my friends had no idea how to say something to me when things were weird in bad relationships. but this should show us once and for all that the consequences of doing nothing may be far, far greater than we could ever fear.

love doesn't mean blamelessness. but it should mean a modicum of safety. it should be positive, supportive, nourishing. no one should ever die for love. ever.


  1. postscript:

  2. This story has been leading every local newscast since it broke. After almost a decade of reporting news like this I find that nothing shocks me anymore.

    But you're right, where were these kids' friends? You can't tell me no one noticed something was going on. I hope you're right that this is a wake-up call to people at UVa and other schools that as much as you think it might not be, you are responsible for your friends.

    I never had to call the cops when I was in school, but I did have a few "discussions" with my less-well behaved classmates about their actions. Nothing was going to happen to anyone on my watch. As Fezzik said, "It's not my fault being the biggest and the strongest."

  3. Very thoughtful sad that things like this happen, but they do all the time, and way more often than people care to admit.


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